Erik P. Nielsen

July 13, 1978 - June 22, 2023


Obituary For Erik P. Nielsen

To view the Livestream of Erik's funeral service, please click the livestream link below his picture.

In 2018, Erik shared this reflection with his Masonic brothers after seeing a play called Marjorie Prime. He wrote (edited for clarity):

The “Prime,” a hologram that looks like a deceased loved one to aid in keeping memories, notes that sailors brought some penguins to Madagascar in the 17th century, where their penguin descendants remain to this day. She looks up wistfully and notes that “Penguins are all that’s left of them.” Fade to black.

To me, that hilarious line is the perfect summation of the net impact of the sailors’ lives. Penguins. It implicitly asks two questions: what we will be remembered for and how we want to be remembered.

After the play, my wife asked me for what I wanted to be remembered. I said something along the lines of “a guy who did some stuff and then died.”

I don’t pretend that I will have an outsized influence on history, much less one connected to stranded penguins half a world away. But Masonry says we should “live respected and die regretted.” For all things Masonry, I look to the basic values to figure out how to do so: friendship, morality, brotherly love, relief, truth. (I’m missing a few, and temperance was never my strong point).

If we conduct our lives according to these virtues, we will pass on knowing we left the world in a better place than we found it.

. . . .

Make today better than yesterday. Or penguins will be all that’s left of us.

–Erik Nielsen


Erik P. Nielsen, age 44, passed away on Thursday, June 22, 2023, at St. Mary’s Hospital, Madison, Wisconsin, from complications of metastatic melanoma.

Outside of his family, Erik did not consider himself a people person. His church life, for example, centered on worship, not community. He could be a bit of a curmudgeon and homebody.

Still, he seemed to like people more than he let on. He valued his Masonic community. He cherished memories of a long-ago guys’ trip to Chile and a trip to Quebec City with Enid. He built comfortable friendships to simply sit and talk.

Erik loved fine foods and wines, whether grilling at home while enjoying a Pisco Sour or Old Fashioned on the deck or eating out at restaurants such as Osteria Papavero or the Madison Club. But he was not a snob. On his last good day, he dreamed of a delicious breakfast. “Maybe an Egg McMuffin tomorrow?” he said, grinning hopefully.

The rich cultural education he shared with his child Kalena extended broadly, too. If Kalena hadn’t heard of a certain band or song, he’d say, “Music education time!” and pull up YouTube. The family explored everything from big hair bands to indie pop across the ages.

He and Kalena had a running joke: “Your first attempt at running from a tiger might be your last attempt at running from a tiger”, which they abbreviated as “Your FARFT might be your LARFT.” He will be missed.

Born on July 13, 1978, Erik was the son of Roger and Sandra (Bupp) Nielsen. He was a graduate of Kilbourne High School in Worthington, OH, and held a B.S. in Computer Science from UW-Madison as well as an MBA from UW-Platteville. After a long career as a software engineer and a manager for bioinformatics and phone apps, he was an employee of Cengage in Madison, WI, working to coordinate diverse departments.

Erik was a Freemason for over 20 years and a Past Master of both Commonwealth No. 325 and Benjamin Franklin No. 83 in Madison, WI. As a founding member of the Benjamin Franklin Masonic Lodge #83, he was able to inspire others in the Masonic tradition.

He met Enid through the Madison housing cooperative, Ofek Shalom. They married in 2005 at the Masonic Center and celebrated with a party full of dancing. He was a devoted father, sharing his favorite movies, music, and anime; helping with schoolwork; and making jokes. He worked with his dad on a variety of investments, picking up complex information quickly. He enjoyed brunches with his mom and appreciated the time they spent together.

Survivors include his parents Roger and Sandra, wife Enid Williams, child Kalena Nielsen, brother Mark (Nicole) Nielsen, aunt Karen (Alden) McLellan, aunt Joan (Richard) Ralph, uncle Christopher (Alice) Bupp, aunt Cheryl (Patrick) Chapman, nephews and niece Alexander, Elijah, and Korinthia, many devoted cousins, in-laws Deborah and Gilbert Williams, many Masonic brothers (such as James Anderson and Travis West), colleagues, and friends (especially Mike Languell).

Preceded in death by his grandparents Paul and Carol Nielsen, Alexander (Eleanor) Bupp, and Phyllis Seefeldt.

Funeral services will be held at Ryan Funeral Home (220 Enterprise Dr, Verona, WI), on Tuesday, June 27, at 12:30 p.m. A visitation will be held at the same location, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Burial will be held after the service at Natural Path Sanctuary, Verona.

To honor his wife’s traditions, shiva services will be held on Tuesday, July 11, 2023 at 6:00pm. Location will be posted soon on

Erik | CaringBridge

Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.

A special thanks to the doctors, residents, and nurses of the 5SW unit at St. Mary’s Hospital, the Palliative Care team, and the oncologists at SSM Health. His family is grateful for the outpouring of support from many friends as well as members of Bread of Life Anglican Church and Congregation Shaarei Shamayim.


27 Jun


10:30 AM - 12:30 AM

Ryan Funeral Homes – Verona 220 S. Enterprise Drive Verona, WI 53593 Get Directions »
27 Jun

Funeral Service

12:30 PM

Ryan Funeral Homes – Verona 220 S. Enterprise Drive Verona, WI 53593 Get Directions »
by Obituary Assistant

Photos & Video

Add New Photos & Video


  • June 30, 2023

    Thinking of the whole family at this hard time. Our hearts and prayers are with you.

  • June 27, 2023

    Rest well in the Light, Brother Nielsen. WM J N Spruill, FAOM BF83

  • June 27, 2023

    Bro. Erik - I'll fondly remember our many laughs shared and memories made - both in and out of Lodge. My life is richer for having known you. My sincerest condolences to the family. - Bro. Corey Kunde

  • June 27, 2023

    Brother Erik, I'll always remember and cherish our time together. Thank you for showing me how to be a better Man and a Mason. My condolences to the family. Bro. Derek Nichols

  • June 27, 2023

    Our condolences to Erik's family and loved ones. I didn't have an opportunity to know Erik for very long, but working with him was a pleasure and honor. His sharp insight and wry humor and will be greatly missed. Coleman Greene


  • 7 TREES

    Bro. Corey Kunde planted 7 trees in memory of Erik P. Nielsen . - June 27, 2023

  • 10 TREES

    Trena and Aksel Pedersen planted 10 trees in memory of Erik P. Nielsen . - June 27, 2023

  • 5 TREES

    Ambre, Aaron, Brighton, Oakley, and Lochlan Hobson planted 5 trees in memory of Erik P. Nielsen . - June 26, 2023

  • 10 TREES

    10 Trees were planted in memory of Erik P. Nielsen - June 26, 2023

Add a Candle

Click a candle below to add a candle to your message.

what our families say

Tiffany Foster went out of her way to fulfill all my requests, talked me through problems I was facing, and tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible when I was a wreck, totally crushed, and I thank her with all of my heart for that.

James S. | July 2020

The professional manner of the staff made a difficult time a little easier.

Lynda R. | July 2020

Services provided for both parents were perfect, on time, and no issues. Brenda is awesome and strong!

Michael M. | July 2020

Skyler was absolutely amazing. She was so caring and helpful through this whole process. She even went above and beyond to meet with us in DeForest and even to make a stop at our home to drop off or pick up anything needed. While it was a small gesture, it was so helpful and greatly appreciated.

Brooke S. | Dec. 2020

Madison North East

2418 N. Sherman Avenue
Madison, WI 53704
Tel: 608-249-8257

Madison West

5701 Odana Road
Madison, WI 53719
Tel: 608-274-1000


220 S. Enterprise Drive
Verona, WI 53593
Tel: 608-845-6625

DeForest / Windsor

6924 Lake Road
DeForest, WI 53532
Tel: 608-846-4250